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Liquid Music Series Presents Grand Band, Today


Liquid Music Series Presents Grand Band, Today Grand Band, a New York-based "supergroup" (New York Times) formed by pianists Erika Dohi, David Friend, Paul Kerekes, Blair McMillen, Lisa Moore and Isabelle O'Connell, makes its Midwest debut at the Ordway Concert Hall on Wednesday, May 16. Their performance features the world premiere of Three Fragile Systems by Missy Mazzoli alongside music by Julius Eastman, Michael Gordon, Paul Kerekes and Kate Moore.

The powerful sextet commissions new works and arrangements for their unique instrumentation and brings a wholly distinct sonic experience to audiences. Each one an accomplished performer in their own right, the combination of their musical prowess results in mesmerizing performances that have been described as "a miracle of ensemble coordination and sonic delight" (Kalamazoo Gazette). Grand Band's Twin Cities debut includes the world premiere of Three Fragile Systems by the "consistently inventive and surprising" (New York Times), and "thoroughly original" (Wall Street Journal) composer Missy Mazzoli.

Notes on the program

Over the course of this performance, listeners will be taken on a wild ride through an unconventional exploration of what piano music can be. The audience will be transported to a space where the physicality of sound and the metaphysicality of music interface in new ways. Grand Band's gripping and thought-provoking program for six pianos is a revolutionary celebration of the instrument and an embodiment of the physicality of sound.

Missy Mazzoli's new piece Three Fragile Systems, which will receive its world premiere at Liquid Music, plays off the many mathematical and musical definitions of "system": an organized scheme, an interconnected network, a group of celestial objects connected by mutual attractive forces, the prevailing political or social order, a set of staves in a musical score. Each movement features a repeating melody transformed according to an idiosyncratic system of layering, expansion, contraction and transposition. The pianos rarely act like pianos; players are asked to mute the strings of the instrument, tremble lightly on the keys, hold the sustain pedal down for an outlandish amount of time, and embrace the natural imperfections that arise when six players try to play in perfect unison. The result is a raw and fluid music that constantly pushes against a rigid, austere mathematical framework.

Paul Kerekes takes a spatial approach in his piece wither; his pristine, delicate music passes around the physically expansive ensemble in a sort of musical choreography that can be heard as well as felt. Michael Gordon's fancifully-titled Ode to La Bruja uses the ensemble to create an almost theatrical fantasy based on childhood memories of piano lessons and the cacophonous sonic melting-pots of conservatory practice rooms. Kate Moore's Sensitive Spot uses a unique set of performance instructions to create a complex and enveloping tapestry of sound that would be impossible to communicate through conventional notation and standard performance practice. Julius Eastman's landmark but rarely performed Gay Guerrilla revels in the sheer scale of sound that the collection of multiple pianos can achieve, while engaging the political and innovative musical ideas that made him such a compelling and unique compositional voice.


Grand Band

Erika Dohi

David Friend

Paul Kerekes

Blair McMillen

Lisa Moore

Isabelle O'Connell

Missy Mazzoli


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Ordway Concert Hall, Saint Paul

Doors at 7:00pm | Performance at 7:30pm

TICKETS: $20 ($16 for SPCO/Liquid Music subscribers, $10 for students) | 651.291.1144

The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra's Liquid Music Series, named "Best of Classical" by The New York Times, develops innovative new projects with iconoclastic artists in unique presentation formats. Liquid Music performances invite adventurous audiences to discover the new and the fascinating within the flourishing landscape of contemporary chamber music.

Renowned for its artistic excellence, remarkable versatility of musical styles and adventurous programming, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra is widely regarded as one of the finest chamber orchestras in the world. Now in its 59th season, the SPCO has recently undergone transformational change with the opening of its new home, the Ordway Concert Hall, the addition of a new generation of players, and significant changes in its artistic vision. The SPCO is primarily an unconducted ensemble that performs a broad range of repertoire from Baroque to new music and works in close collaboration with a diverse series of artistic partners, including British Baroque specialist Jonathan Cohen, American pianist Jeremy Denk, Swedish clarinetist Martin Fröst, Moldovan violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto. Past Artistic Partners include Roberto Abbado, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Joshua Bell, Douglas Boyd, Nicholas McGegan, Stephen Prutsman, Dawn Upshaw and Christian Zacharias.

The virtuoso musicians of the SPCO present more than 130 concerts and educational programs in the Twin Cities each year. The orchestra also reaches more than 250,000 listeners annually through its free online Concert Library, and has recently begun offering both live and on-demand videos of concerts that can be viewed anytime, anywhere, on any device, completely free of charge. The SPCO is regularly heard on public radio programs that reach more than 2 million listeners each week on over 300 stations. Additionally, the SPCO has released 67 recordings, commissioned 148 new works, and tours nationally and internationally, including performances in premier venues in Europe, Asia and South America.

The SPCO is nationally recognized for its commitment to broad community accessibility, its innovative audience outreach efforts, and its educational and family programming. Regular subscription series are performed in a variety of different venues across the Twin Cities metropolitan area each season, a unique commitment to geographic accessibility for a major orchestra. The SPCO offers the most affordable tickets of any major orchestra in the United States, with over 50 percent of tickets available for $15 or less, and has expanded accessibility even further by offering free tickets for children and students starting in the 2016.17 season as a part of the New Generation Initiative. The orchestra also offers an innovative ticket membership model in which members pay $7 per month to attend unlimited concerts. The SPCO's award-winning CONNECT education program reaches over 5,000 students and teachers annually in 12 Minneapolis and Saint Paul public schools, and its Target Free Family Music program provides engaging and educational experiences for thousands of Twin Cities children and families each year. The SPCO's Liquid Music Series (named "Best of Classical" by The New York Times) develops innovative new projects with iconoclastic artists in unique presentation formats and invites adventurous audiences to discover the new and the fascinating within the flourishing landscape of contemporary chamber music.

Grand Band features six of New York City's top pianists: Vicky Chow, David Friend, Paul Kerekes, Blair McMillen, Lisa Moore and Isabelle O'Connell. The ensemble has been described by The New York Times as "a kind of new-music supergroup" and "the Traveling Wilburys of the city's new-music piano scene". Labelled "awesome" by Sequenza 21 and 'inventive' in New York Magazine, this stunning collection of performers creates a powerful sonic force. A modern and unconventional troupe, Grand Band champions new music, living composers and arrangements of 19th and 20th Century classics. Their recent commissions include new works by composers Michael Gordon, Paul Kerekes, Missy Mazzoli and Ben Wallace. Grand Band repertoire also includes original works by David Lang, Philip Glass, John Metcalf, Kate Moore, Steve Reich, Kevin Volans and Julia Wolfe as well as emerging UK composers Nathan Dearden, William Marsey, Lucy McPhee and David Roche. For sold out shows in 2017 Grand Band added arrangements of popular classics to their repertoire-works by Modeste Mussorgsky (Pictures at an Exhibition), Gustav Holst (The Planets) and Leonard Bernstein (West-Side Story Symphonic Dance Suite). Broadcast regularly on New York's WQXR's Q2 radio, Grand Band has performed at the Bang on a Can Marathon, (le) poisson rouge, Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, Detroit Institute of the Arts, Lansdale Community Concerts (PA), Rite of Summer Festival (NY), Sheffield University, Cornerstone Festival Liverpool England as well as the Vale of Glamorgan Festival in Cardiff, Wales.


NYC-based pianist Erika Dohi, a multi-faceted artist with an eclectic musical background that ranges from traditionally classical to jazz, free improvisation and contemporary music, has been described as a "dynamic" performer whose "technique is decidedly unidiomatic" (Classicalite). Most recently, Erika appeared with Wadada Leo Smith during his residency at The Stone, and with her new-music duo RighteousGIRLS at Lincoln Center's Bruno Walter Theater. Erika co-directs BLUEPRINTS piano series, a project that unites pianists from different genres for eclectic concerts that mix classical music, contemporary, jazz and improvisation.

ABOUT David Friend

David Friend is a New York-based pianist who focuses primarily on new and experimental music. He has performed adventurous programming in major venues around the world such as Carnegie Hall, Royal Festival Hall (London) and the National Center for the Performing Arts (Beijing), as well as alternative spaces like Le Poisson Rouge (NYC), Diapason Sound Gallery (NYC), Literaturhaus (Copenhagen) and the Logos Tetrahedron (Ghent). Critics have called his performances "astonishingly compelling" (Washington Post) and hailed his "streamlined virtuosity" (The Guardian, UK), while the New York Times has heralded Friend and his fellow Grand Band performers as "six of the finest, busiest pianists active in New York's contemporary-classical scene." He plays regularly with a variety of new music groups including Ensemble Signal, Hotel Elefant, and TRANSIT New Music, of which he is a co-founder. His playing has been heard on radio stations around the country (including on NPR's Performance Today, Q2's Hammered, and WNYC's New Sounds). David has released two albums for New Amsterdam Records: Corps Exquis (with TRANSIT New Music) and The Julius Eastman Memory Depot (with DJ Jace Clayton, pianist Emily Manzo, and vocalist Arooj Aftab), both of which have been met with critical acclaim.


Paul Kerekes was born in Huntington, New York. His music has been described as "striking... ecstatic... dramatic" (WQXR), "highly eloquent" (New Haven Advocate), and able to create "an almost tactile picture" (The New York Times). He has had the privilege of hearing his music performed by many outstanding ensembles, some of which include TwoSense, American Composers Orchestraand Dinosaur Annex, in such venues as (le) poisson rouge, The Dimenna Center and Symphony Space. He has also attended notable programs such as Aspen Music Festival, MusicX, Yale's New Music Workshop in Norfolk, Connecticut, California Summer Music, the Young Artists Piano Program at Tanglewood and Stony Brook Summer Music Festival. Additionally, he has participated in master classes both as a composer and pianist with Lisa Moore, Lisa Kaplan, Steven Stucky and John Corigliano. Paul is currently pursuing an M.M.A. at Yale School of Music studying with David Lang. He received his undergraduate degree from Queens College where he primarily studied with Bruce Saylor.


Pianist Blair McMillen leads a multifarious musical life as soloist, chamber musician, new-music champion, pedagogue and conductor. The New York Times has described him as "riveting," "prodigiously accomplished and exciting" and as one of the piano's "brilliant stars." Highlights from recent seasons include concertos with the American Symphony in Carnegie Hall, solo appearances with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Albany Symphony, and a three-week solo tour of Brazil sponsored by the U.S. State Department. McMillen is the co-founder director of the Rite of Summer Music Festival, an indie-classical outdoor concert series held on New York City's Governors Island. He has served on the music faculty at Bard College and Conservatory since 2005.


The New York Times writes "Lisa Moore, an Australian pianist long based in and around New York, has always been a natural, compelling storyteller." Lisa has released nine solo discs (Cantaloupe, Tall Poppies, Orange Mountain) and over 30 collaborative discs (Sony, Nonesuch, DG, BMG, New World, ABC Classics, Albany, New Albion, Starkland, Harmonia Mundi). She has worked with over 200 composers, performing globally as a soloist and with a large and diverse range of musicians and artists-including the London Sinfonietta, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, New York City Ballet, Steve Reich Ensemble, American Composers Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Bang On A Can All-Stars (founding member 92-08), Paul Dresher Double Duo, So Percussion, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Grand Band and Ensemble Signal. Her festival performances include Lincoln Center, BAM Next Wave, Graz, Vienna, Tanglewood, Aspen, Chautauqua, Gilmore, Chamber Music Northwest, Huddersfield, Paris d'Automne, Hong Kong, BBC Proms, Southbank, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne Metropolis, Israel and Warsaw in venues such as the Royal Albert Hall, La Scala, Carnegie Hall and the Musikverein.


Since her acclaimed Carnegie Hall debut recital in 2002, Dublin-born pianist Isabelle O'Connell has developed an international career as soloist and chamber musician that has taken her across four continents. Hailed by the New Yorker as "the young Irish piano phenom," she is a noted advocate for living composers, commissioning and performing works around the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Europe, at venues such as Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Chicago Cultural Center, Cleveland Museum of Art, Detroit Art Institute, Cork Opera House and the National Concert Hall, Ireland. Isabelle has performed as concerto soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, and has also performed with the Crash ensemble, Alarm Will Sound, the Da Capo Chamber Players, the Curiosity Cabinet, Ergodos and with the ConTempo and New Zealand String Quartets. Isabelle has recorded on the Diatribe, Innova and Lyric fm labels. Her debut solo album RESERVOIR features solo piano music by nine contemporary Irish composers. Sequenza 21 wrote: "O'Connell plays with impressive power, clarity and commitment".


Missy Mazzoli was recently deemed "one of the more consistently inventive, surprising composers now working in New York" (The New York Times) and "Brooklyn's post-millennial Mozart" (Time Out New York). Her music has been performed all over the world by the Kronos Quartet, eighth blackbird, pianist Emanuel Ax, Opera Philadelphia, LA Opera, Cincinnati Opera, New York City Opera, Chicago Fringe Opera, the Detroit Symphony, the LA Philharmonic, the Minnesota Orchestra, the American Composers Orchestra, JACK Quartet, cellist Maya Beiser, violinist Jennifer Koh, pianist Kathleen Supové, Dublin's Crash Ensemble, the Sydney Symphony and many others. Her second opera, Breaking the Waves, a collaboration with librettist Royce Vavrek commissioned by Opera Philadelphia and Beth Morrison Projects, premiered to great acclaim in Philadelphia in September 2016 and as part of New York's Prototype Festival in January 2017. The work was described as "among the best 21st-century operas yet" (Opera News), "savage, heartbreaking and thoroughly original" (Wall Street Journal), and "dark and daring" (New York Times).

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